Prevailing American thinking about substate threats—and more specifically the thinking that shapes U.S. policy—exhibits at least as much of a disconnect between perception and reality as when A Dangerous World? was published six years ago.
The United States spends hundreds of billions of dollars a year—and risks war—largely to stop other people from fighting among themselves. The common story that reducing regional competition abroad makes America more secure at home is close to being backwards.
COVID-19 presents an opportunity for the public and policymakers to reevaluate what is important. We should strive for an accurate perception of threats to our health and safety, and aim to ensure that resources are being directed where they are most needed.
In the midst of the most serious global pandemic in over 100 years, it might seem odd to suggest that we are too scared about the world around us. In fact, it’s the perfect time to wonder if we’re scared about the right things, and if government policies actually keep us safe.
Amidst the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act’s usual mix of bloat and fiscal irresponsibility resides a greater omission: Congress continues to evade its responsibility to oversee the nation’s wars.